Is it time to prepare for Quantum Computing?
Shorter research times for innovative drugs, cures for diseases, dynamic management of large fleets of logistics companies, products that arrive earlier and in better condition, reduction of tons of carbon emissions…
These are just some of the applications of quantum computing, but it has the potential to transform these and many other sectors, which is why many technology companies and governments are investing billions to support its development. We analyze its advantages, the revolution it can bring, what it consists of, and how to take advantage of it in our business.
Entering the world of Quantum Computing
Although there were some previous ones, we have to go back to 1994 for the first relevant presentation of a quantum computing algorithm. The mathematician Peter Shor was in charge of it, and he spoke of the possibility of reducing the time needed to find the prime factors of a large number of numbers from billions of years with a conventional computer to a few days with a quantum computer.
It was a huge breakthrough, as prime factorization is the basis of much of our current encryption and data security infrastructure. Seven years later, IBM scientists successfully demonstrated the Shor algorithm on a quantum machine for the first time, proving that it worked and that quantum computers could be built.
Such computers solve problems exponentially faster and with less power consumption than traditional computers. To understand this, let’s imagine a labyrinth. A classical computer has to go through one path after another until it finds the exit. However, the quantum computer is able to work with all paths at the same time. A classical 8-bit computer can only represent a single number from 0 to 255, while an 8-qubit quantum computer can represent the probability of a number from 0 to 255 when reading those 8 qubits. That is a vector of 256 complex numbers.
In short, a classical binary unit of computation, or bit, can contain a value of 0 or 1, while a qubit can represent a 0, a 1, or any ratio of 0 and 1.
Quantum Computing and Business
Quantum computing will allow companies to better optimize their investment strategies, encryption, or product discovery.
Many technology giants such as Microsoft, Honeywell, and IBM are investing in the race to deliver the next quantum breakthrough. Google, for example, has pledged to spend billions of dollars to build a functional quantum computer by 2029 and is investing heavily in research and facilities to do so.
The advance of quantum computing will bring two major changes to the business environment:
- A negative factor: Infrastructure exposed to cyber-attacks on companies that have not updated to ensure digital privacy and security on public networks.
- A positive factor: an explosion of algorithmic power that will allow us to perform tasks that are impossible today and will reshape our world.
Quantum Computing Business Opportunities
In the short term, few companies will own quantum computers. Instead, we will see a cloud computing model where companies lease access to quantum computers hosted by a small number of specialized providers, such as Azure Quantum.
However, they will not be used in isolation but will be part of a hybrid solution in which tasks will be assigned to the most appropriate computer at any given time (quantum or classical). This cloud infrastructure will enable sharing of resources and create economies of scale that reduce costs and increase access while driving demand and speeding up the process.
Some of the applications and business opportunities that quantum computing will open up include:
- Cryptography: this is one of the most common areas when talking about quantum computing. With traditional computers, breaking the encryption that uses a very large prime number factorization is unfeasible. With quantum, this encryption could become trivial, resulting in much stronger protection for our digital assets.
- Aviation: quantum technology will enable more complex computer modeling, such as aeronautical scenarios. Huge commercial benefits can be achieved in terms of time and cost in aircraft routing.
- Data analysis: companies such as NASA are investigating this technology to analyze the huge amount of data they collect about the universe, as well as better and safer methods of space travel. On the other hand, it will be able to help solve large-scale problems, such as in topological analysis, where geometric shapes behave in specific ways, describing calculations that are impossible for conventional computers and which would become relatively simple.
- Forecasting: We must rely on large and complex data sets to make predictions and forecast different scenarios. Currently, they are limited to a specific number of factors, whereas if more were added, it would take much longer to make the prediction. Quantum computing helps to do this more accurately, which also means great economic benefits.
- Pattern search: finding sequences in data helps us predict future patterns. For example, when it comes to traffic conditions in the past. So matching traffic patterns and predicting the behavior of an entire system such as traffic is unthinkable now, but with quantum computing, everything can change.
- Medicine: It takes pharmaceutical companies more than ten years to discover and bring a drug to market, which is a huge investment of money and time. Quantum computing can drastically reduce costs and time to market, reuse pre-approved drugs more easily for new applications and enable chemists to make discoveries faster.
These are just some of the applications of this technology, but there are thousands more.
Why might Businesses be interested in using Quantum Computers
It’s hard to put an exact date on when the first functional quantum computer will arrive. However, quantum computing is already here, and quantum algorithms can be created for your business today, so it’s not too early to think about how this breakthrough can stimulate your digital investment, reshape industries or drive innovation.
So gaining a solid understanding of the applications of quantum now will be critical for your business to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls it will bring over the next few years. The first step is to assess the potential of quantum computing in your industry, how competitors are approaching the technology, and what we need to make the leap. You need to identify the right use cases for your business, select the right partners and develop a management system that allows you to generate business value in the short term and with prospects for further improvement in the long term.
It is very important to identify these use cases early on and clarify the challenges in managing expectations. They can be proven to work on a low scale, and as quantum computers grow in qubits, the same algorithms can be run on larger amounts of data. The growth of quantum capacity is exponential, so for every computer that gets one more qubit, it will double the computational capacity.
At Plain Concepts, we can help you prepare for this new wave of technology that will change how we do business as we know it.